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About the Forum

The Forum provides opportunities for community members to offer public presentations on their scholarly and other interests. The Forum meets on Thursday afternoons during the academic year, from 4:15 - 5:15 p.m. Presentations are informal, generally lasting about 40 minutes, and are followed by a question and discussion period to end the hour.

All are welcome to attend - students are especially encouraged - and refreshments are provided.

Thursday Forum Presentations

January 14, 2016
Rodger Narloch
LIttle Theatre (Q346) - St. John's
Not Knowing Where to Begin? An Approach for Incorporating the Catholic/Benedictine Mission into Social Science Courses

In the past couple decades, many Catholic universities have placed greater emphasis on infusing the Catholic part of their mission throughout the academic curriculum. A challenging question that gets to the heart of this matter is: How are my courses at a Catholic university different than if I were teaching them elsewhere? For social scientists, such a question often elicits blank stares and silence! Indeed, allowing a religious perspective to have any bearing on our disciplinary content or how we communicate it to students is largely counter-cultural within the social sciences, particularly psychology. In this talk, I will provide some rationale as to why thinking about the connections between Catholicism and the social sciences is an endeavor that faculty at a Catholic university should care about, even if one does not personally hold Catholic beliefs. I will then articulate a set of ideas for how to begin incorporating elements of a Catholic perspective into your work, especially your courses.

January 21, 2016
Deborah Pembleton
TRC Board Room - St. Ben's
Global Leadership, Cultural Competence and the Gospel Music Legacy of Sr. Thea Bowman

The construct of global leadership is defined as the "process of influencing the thinking, attitudes and behaviors of a global community to work together synergistically toward a common vision and common goals." Throughout her life, Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, dedicated herself to bringing people together through her energizing speeches infused with gospel music. Since her passing in 1990, numerous schools, centers, and institutes internationally have been named in her honor. In her role as English Department Chair at Viterbo College, Lacrosse, Wisconsin and as a consultant for intercultural awareness for the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, Sr. Thea endeavored to unite people of different backgrounds to achieve a common vision of mutual understanding, respect, and acceptance of one another. Dr. Deborah Pembleton will expand upon her presentation at the dedication of the Sr. Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center at Boston College. Dr. Pembleton will highlight the life of Sr. Thea and will examine how Sr. Thea's life is aligned with the construct of global leadership and embodies the essence of cultural competence.

January 28, 2016
Bennette Frensko, Louis Johnston, Adam Konczewski
Gorecki 120 - St. Ben's
Data Visualization in Introductory Courses

Data visualization is the presentation of data in quickly identifiable graphic formats like statistical graphs, plots, information graphics and tables. Easy-to-learn computer software enables users to bring to life large, online data sets in a variety of disciplines. We will discuss our experience applying data visualization to Economics 111 (Introduction to Economics) during fall semester. In particular, we will present examples of student work and some of the lessons we learned along the way.

February 4, 2016
Alexandra Miller
GDCC Pres. Conf. Room (Gorecki 201) - St. Ben's
Quantifying Sustainability: Ranking CSB among our peers, aspirants, and MIAC schools

Carbon reductions, green fees, RECs, solar arrays, school farms connections, and academic programs specializing in sustainability topics are growing trends in schools across the nation. Having joined the hundreds of colleges and universities in signing the American College and University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), CSB pledged to integrate sustainability into our academics, operations and community as we strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. Other schools have similar goals. How are we doing in meeting our goals compared to our peer, aspirant and fellow MIAC institutions? In this presentation, we dive specifically into the data to analyze how CSB compares to our peers, aspirants, and MIAC schools.

February 11, 2016
Diana Elhard, Anna Cron, Megan Towel (Extending the Link)
GDCC Pres. Conf. Room (Gorecki 201) - St. Ben's
Know Your Heritage, Obbasa Ain Gallit: We Continue

Three members of Extending the Link (ETL), an on campus student documentary team, will focus on the value of knowing your own heritage and using it as inspiration for respecting others. The motivation for this Thursday Forum comes from ETL's eighth film, Obbasa Ain Gállit: We Continue, which shows the path of modern indigenous communities, through the lens of the Sámi.

Obbasa Ain Gállit:
The last recognized indigenous group in Europe, the Sámi reside in Sápmi (Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Russia). Additionally, there is a large Sámi-American population in the United States, specifically in Minnesota, near Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth.
In the fall of 2014, the twelve-member team filmed throughout Minnesota. In December, five members of the Extending the Link team traveled to Norway and Sweden to meet with members of the Sámi community, including Sámi Parliament members, teachers, authors, and artists.
The Sámi have fought to preserve their heritage, language and culture despite heavy pressures from national governments and colonization to assimilate to modern society. The Sámi have combated traditional stereotypes, environmental destruction, and language loss. Through perseverance and pride in their people, they have successfully brought their Sámi culture and values into the 21st century.
The Sámi story illustrates the importance of knowing one's own heritage, including the history of the land one calls home. The Sámi show how indigenous narratives have survived through every wrinkle in earth's time, and will continue on through the modern pursuit of preserving land and cultural traditions.

February 18, 2016
Julie Lynch and Patty Klug
Gorecki 120 - St. Ben's
From Stress to Calm: The Overstimulated College Student

Cluster teaching focus: We assist FYS students in transitioning to college by identifying coping tools for the stress of homesickness, academic and financial challenges as well as managing mental and physical health in the college setting. Guiding students through Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) theory and discipline provides an awareness of self and spiritual "Self" as they move into an independent academic path at a liberal arts setting. MBSR also introduces them to a way of connecting deeper to others, to their world, and their communities. In contrast, technology can be one of the barriers to students' success with the constant barrage of social media, use of their smartphones and other personal electronic devices. Through readings and reflective activities examining their dependence on technology, students are guided to a greater awareness of where they stand with the question: When do we own technology and when does it own us? We will explain how we came to the need of combining our expertise with mindfulness and social media as students transition to the college setting. We'll also reflect on student comments, projects, and writings that help us better understand the reality of their situation. Finally, we'll reach out to colleagues for feedback on the need to better shape a necessary wellness program to highly anxious, overstimulated, and perhaps over-protected students who can better grow through a larger use of this same unit.

February 25, 2016
Matt Harkins
Little Theatre (Q346) - St. John's
The Politics of Framing Age in King Lear
While the binary struggle between "the young" and "the old" has dominated the critical tradition surrounding Lear's age, this talk examines his age through early modern ideas of the contested boundaries separating a patriarch's powerful, "green old age" from his impotent dotage. As the cultural meanings of age were difficult to control, and yet crucial to the operations of early modern political authority, the play shows how an old man's physical decay could become a political fact before it was a biological one. In so doing, King Lear gestures more broadly towards the ideological blind spots of patriarchal authority in early modern England.

March 3, 2016
Tyler Thompson
Little Theatre (Q346) - St. John's
Collegebound: History, Outcomes and the Future of outdoor orientation at The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University

Outdoor orientation programs at four-year colleges and universities have a rich history of easing student's transition into college and helping students be successful. Collegebound is the outdoor orientation program for first year or transfer students at St. Ben's and St. John's. This program itself has a rich history with almost 30 years of trips that began in 1987. Recently the program grew nearly 50% in one year alone and received its highest participation rate in its history with 63 student participants in 2015. Collegebound is more than just a wilderness trip, but rather an experience that fosters community, learning, healthy risk taking, and leadership development. Outdoor orientation programs provide significant benefits to students and the future of this program will benefit both students and the institutions in years ahead. Learn not only about the history of this beneficial program but also about outdoor orientation programs across the country, program outcomes and how they continue to be successful.

March 17, 2016
Jason Schlude & Rachel Marston
Little Theatre (Q346) - St. John's
We Are Many: Engaging Diversity in the Classroom

The upcoming 2016 issue of Headwaters will include a special "roundtable" discussion on how we as a faculty engage the issue of diversity in the classroom. While each author may focus on different aspects of diversity (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, language, socio-economics), nearly all are concerned with how to teach their disciplines in ways directly and indirectly addressing the issue of diversity. Considering our evolving community, recent events on and off campus, and the new opportunities afforded us by the Mellon Foundation, the subject is timely. In this Thursday Forum, the CSB/SJU community will get a sneak-peek at the profound thinking and work that some of our faculty are engaged in and will contribute to the 2016 issue of Headwaters. In particular, this interactive panel discussion will feature the work of Patricia Bolanos (Hispanic Studies) and Sucharita Sinha Mukherjee (Economics), who will discuss how cultural and gender diversity can be explored with a multi-step process that can help instructors to create a meaningful and effective engagement with it. In addition, Mara Faulkner (English) will share her understanding of the sometimes-hidden diversity of experience among our students. It is an understanding that has been enabled and enriched by the creative writing that students have entrusted to her throughout her career of teaching at CSB/SJU. And it shows that our students have experienced and in fact are much more than may meet our eyes. Please join us!​

March 31, 2016
Mary Geller & Doug Mullin
Quad 264 - St. John's University
Developing Policies for Gender Non-Conforming Students

Transgender people within higher education continue to be an invisible, often forgotten community. Only about 10% of colleges and universities have trans-inclusive nondiscrimination statements. Research suggests that trans people face higher rates of harassment when compared to cisgender, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, and are three times more likely to fear for their physical safety on campus. In the last decade, however, a number of campuses have become leaders in creating trans-friendly policies, programs, and practices.

As Benedictine institutions, CSB and SJU are committed to the value of respect for persons regardless of gender identity or conformity. As Catholic institutions, CSB and SJU seek to recognize and affirm the importance of gender identity. As a college for women and an undergraduate college for men, CSB and SJU are each committed to a single sex mission.

As part of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Open Pathways Quality Initiative for re-accreditation, the SJU and CSB Vice Presidents for Student Development were charged to organize and lead a research-based task force that will guide the development and implementation of "transgender policy and practice for the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University via a collective process thus preparing the institutions to educate and serve transgender and gender non-conforming students in ways consistent with the Catholic and Benedictine character of CSB and SJU, and the single sex mission of each institution."

We will report on our task force findings and seek thoughtful and constructive discussion on the policies we are recommending.
April 7, 2016
Ben Faber
Little Theatre (Q346) - St. John's
Coding, Cognition, and Cultivating Learning: Building Rich Internet Applications for Effective Teaching

In recent years a confluence of events have provided a challenge and opportunity to higher education. Widespread mobile technology (smartphones, tablets, etc.) and universally supported web standard programming languages (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) permit faculty to develop, and students to utilize, interactive Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) for learning and enhancing classroom instruction. Meanwhile cost concerns and the rise of online education has challenged traditional institutions of higher education to rethink how they deliver knowledge and skills to students. In this talk I will review how these technologies can be used inside and beyond the traditional classroom to allow students to interact with information and concepts through rich dynamic visualizations and scaffolded organization. My recent work developing a set of RIAs for the teaching of statistical concepts will be shown along with the step-by-step interactive teaching mode built into these applications. I will present a critical look at current Adaptive Learning Technologies from a Cognitive Science perspective and discuss how customized RIAs derived from empirically based learning principles could enhance a modern liberal arts curriculum.

April 14, 2016
Katee Meckeler
GDCC Pres. Conf. Room (Gorecki 201) - St. Ben's
Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Minnesota Lakes

The purpose of this study is to examine the occurrence and pattern of antibiotic resistance among bacteria found in lakes on the Saint John's University campus and in Avon, MN from summer 2015 to spring 2016. By analyzing the affect temperature has on the pattern of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the data will provide comprehensive information that is imperative to understand the characteristics and extent of antibiotic resistance. This study will support efforts to regulate antibiotic consumption and misuse by contributing data that shows the existence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in our local aquatic communities and how the fluctuating seasons play a role in this resistance pattern.

April 28, 2016
Ana Conboy
Main 324 - St. Ben's
Invisible Marks: Representations of Baptism and Death in 17th-century Parisian Hagiographic Dramaturgy, 1630-1650

Together, baptism and death symbolize the bookends of a life of Christian morals and values. They are also the bookends of the tales of converted martyrs represented on the secular Parisian stage in the mid-17th century. In this presentation, I will consider the expressed desire of the protagonists to be baptized and I will explore their subsequent baptism as an "invisible", i.e. a profound though indiscernible, mark of the Christian body. For that purpose, I will refer specifically to Corneille's masterpiece Polyeucte, martyr, Rotrou's Le Véritable saint Genest and to saint Eustache, to whom two plays were dedicated a few years apart, Le Martyr de saint Eustache by Nicolas Desfontaines and Saint Eustache, martyr by Balthasar Baro. The invisible talisman of baptism is transformative, a source of strength and wisdom for those protected by it and provides the impulse to defy tyrants, persecutors and sometimes even loved ones in the effort to gain ground on the ultimate goal of eternal life in their God's kingdom, through the fulfillment of death, or life's destination. In the context of 17th-century dramaturgy and aesthetics, baptism becomes a doubly invisible mark when considering that it, along with the death of the protagonist, is omitted from the play due to the formal constraints of the French neo-Aristotelian stage. The absence of the two life events on stage reflects the undetectable nature of the seal of baptism and accompanies the transition from Baroque to Classic aesthetic in French dramaturgy.

Find Out More

About the Forum

The Forum provides opportunities for community members to offer public presentations on their scholarly and other interests. The Forum meets on Thursday afternoons during the academic year, from 4:15 - 5:15 p.m. Presentations are informal, generally lasting about 40 minutes, and are followed by a question and discussion period to end the hour.

All are welcome to attend - students are especially encouraged - and refreshments are provided.